Oh, Daredevil. You’ve gone and done it now! In this latest episode of Daredevil, we see a turning point in the Man Without Fear, and we get to watch as our titular hero finds himself in a new, harrowing scenario that further tests his abilities as well as his moral compass. The appropriately named “Condemned” finally explores what happens when Daredevil clashes with the police, and when he’s forced to choose between fighting with the law, or fighting against the law. (spoilers ahead!)
Taking place immediately after the last episode, we see Daredevil cornered by the police in mid-interrogation with a disheveled Vladimir. At first, it seems like Daredevil is going to comply with his arrest, but when he hears one of the cops mention something about killing Vlad, the hero springs into action and kicks the entire squad’s ass before escaping with the Russian mobster. I’m slightly curious about whether Daredevil intended to fight off the cops right from the start, or if it was something that was spur of the moment. It seems like he was ready to comply with their orders and would probably have gone in quietly, making me think that he originally intended to just fess up to his “crimes”. But his attitude shifts the moment he catches the whiff of corruption, forcing him into action. You can’t blame him for taking out the police, seeing as they weren’t real officers and merely Fisk’s cronies. However, it’s still an interesting concept revolving around Daredevil’s moral dilemma when it comes to exacting justice. I’ll elaborate more later.
A majority of the episode takes place in an abandoned building where Daredevil is busy interrogating Vlad and making sure he doesn’t die from his severe wounds. Murdock calls Claire for medical assistance, and she talks him through the process of cauterizing a wound using an emergency flare. Something about that scene was bad-ass, but slightly nauseating. Unfortunately, Vlad’s screams attract police attention, and Daredevil is forced to violently subdue a rookie officer who wanders onto the scene.
Here’s where things get complicated for Murdock. By now, he knows the police are after him, and that most of them are corrupt. He asks the officer who he works for, and it appears that this is one of the “good” cops. Daredevil tells the cop to radio into central and tell them that it was a false alarm at the building in exchange for letting him walk free. However, the officer panics and calls for backup. Notice how Daredevil working with the law actually backfires for him. Had he just knocked out the officer, he could’ve saved himself a bunch of headaches. But he doesn’t want to do that because it’s pretty counterproductive to his entire mission of upholding justice in Hell’s Kitchen. The Man Without Fear is forced into a paradox in which he can’t win no matter what he does. This will end up becoming a recurring theme throughout his life as a vigilante; what we saw in this episode was just the first dose.
There was a nice little crossover of story arcs in this episode as well. Foggy and Karen take Ms. Cardenas to the hospital to be treated for her wounds suffered from the explosion. Can you guess who the nurse is that takes care of her? None other than Claire! Out of all the nurses in the hospital, what are the odds that Claire would end up running into her lover’s best friend and secretary? I guess it must be a small staff…
Back in Daredevil’s world, Murdock is preparing himself for the police assault on his hiding spot while he continues to interrogate Vlad. He scrambles to find weapons and Vlad makes a snide remark about him not taking a gun. Daredevil refuses, saying he doesn’t like guns, most likely because he’s against killing, especially innocent officers who are just doing their jobs. This is yet another instance where the hero’s moral compass is put to a test. He knows there are corrupt police on the force who are willing to kill him and Vlad with little hesitation. He’s going to put his own safety on the line for the sake of not fatally harming anyone.
Vincent D’Onofrio, being the awesome guy that he is, shines once again in the episode. Fisk and Daredevil have a conversation over a walkie-talkie where Fisk shames the hero and tells him why his ideology is flawed. He attempts to convince Daredevil to hand over the Russian so that he can call off the police. This is one moral area where Murdock refuses to back down. He may have qualms when it comes to fighting against the police, but we see here that he absolutely refuses to negotiate with someone as vile as Fisk. Not being outdone, Fisk releases the tape of Daredevil fighting the police officers at the beginning of the episode, effectively turning most of the city against him.
There was so much going on in this episode that it’s hard to pinpoint and analyze every fine detail. The overall lesson to take away from “Condemned” is the fact that one of Daredevil’s toughest enemies is his moral compass. He’s constantly butting heads with his perceived sense of “right and wrong” and the lengths he’s willing to go to in order to carry out justice. This episode put him to the test and makes the audience understand a common ethical dilemma that every vigilante must face.
Final Grade: B
+ Great performances from Rosario Dawson and Vincent D’Onofrio.
+ The episode contained its token awesome fight scene.
+ It was great seeing just how far the corruption goes in the police force in Hell’s Kitchen and what kind of impact Fisk has on the city.
– There’s a small confrontation between Urich and some of the police officers regarding the fate of journalism and how Urich will eventually be out of a job; I felt like this was out of place in the episode and seemed like it should’ve been held off for a different time.
– Daredevil picks up a metal rebar to use as a weapon. Could this be foreshadowing of his trademark billy club?
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